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A Grand Show of Lies

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

23 Sep 2010 23:1435 Comments
img-article---kinzer-ahmadinejad-dinner_065642740782.jpg[ opinion ] In his trip to New York to participate in the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been undertaking a media blitz, giving interviews to many, ranging from Christian Amanpour of ABC to Charlie Rose of PBS and Larry King of CNN. Aside from his typical boasting, exaggerations, and arrogance, he has been lying so frequently that it has almost become impossible to keep track of all of his prevarications. Some of his lies are so brazen that even his supporters in Tehran have expressed astonishment and rebuked him. A sample of his lies:

"No newspaper in Iran has been closed for criticizing me and my government":

This is while just since last year's rigged election, many newspapers have been closed, precisely because of their criticisms, most notably the daily E'temad Melli, Mehdi Karrobi's newspaper, and Kalameh Sabz, Mir Hossein Mousavi's daily.

"Iran is the freest country in the world":

This is while there are at least 800 political prisoners in Iran whose sole "offense" has been protesting the terrible state of the nation, at least 110 people have been killed since last year during demonstrations and in detention centers, at least two prominent supporters of the Green Movement have been assassinated, and at least eight people have been executed.

"The judiciary is completely independent in Iran":

This is while the main advisor of Sadegh Larijani, the judiciary chief, is Brigadier General Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr, the hardline Revolutionary Guard commander, and according to many reports from Tehran, the jail terms that have been given to many prominent political prisoners have been imposed by the security forces.

"Sanctions are not important":

This is while even the conservatives acknowledge that sanctions have been hurting, the price of practically everything has gone through the roof, many European banks refuse to do business with Iran, and all the major European oil companies have pulled out of the country.

"Sakineh Mohammadi has not been condemned to death by stoning":

This is while activists have already posted a copy of the judiciary verdict and punishment for her, and the judiciary chief of East Azerbaijan province, where Mohammadi is from, has stated repeatedly that she will be executed as soon as Sadegh Larijani gives the go-ahead.

"No one has been imprisoned for taking part in demonstrations":

This is while the Tehran police chief acknowledged last year that on the anniversary of the Revolution on February 12 alone, 20,000 people had been arrested.

"No one is tortured in Iran":

This is while Mehdi Karroubi presented irrefutable evidence of torture and rape in the jails and detention centers. In fact, torture and rape became so prevalent at Kahrizak detention center that after Mohsen Ruholamini, a son of a prominent conservative, Dr. Abdolhossein Ruholamini, was murdered there, Ayatollah Khamenei was prompted to order its closure.

"Fidel Castro called me and denied what was attributed to him about me":

This is while Fidel strongly criticized Ahmadinejad for his denial of the Holocaust and advised him to study the history, and no denial has been issued by Fidel or the Cuban government.

"I am not in favor of killing anyone":

This is while he has threatened his critics repeatedly that he and his supporters will crush their heads, and has used some of the harshest language imaginable to attack the democratic opposition.

"Our critics and competitors are freely active in Iran":

This is while the main leaders and supporters of the Green Movement are either in jail, or under virtual house arrest, and the main reformist political groups, the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Organization of Islamic Revolution Mojahedin, have been outlawed.

"Israel cannot attack Iran":

This is while Israel is armed with a completely modernized air force, supplied by the United States, has been carrying out many exercises, and has reportedly reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia to use its airspace to bomb Iran.

The above is just a partial sample. Amid his sea of lies, Ahmadinejad did state one bit of truth:

"The future belongs to Iran."

Yes, a democratic future without him and his supporters in power.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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His defense would probaby be "others lie too, I am not the only one".The only solution is to tune him out, He and the SL are not worth listening to on any subject.Good ratings,though for the networks. Its only a matter of time before he gets his own reality TV program.

pirooz / September 24, 2010 1:02 AM

More on journalists in captivity here:


A new slogan in tehran according to Balatarin:

پرچم خرچنگ نمیخوایم - رهبر الدنگ نمیخوایم

Raician / September 24, 2010 1:44 AM

Prof. Sahimi,

I am wondering if maybe you have been away from Iran too long because since being back in Iran after several decades in Europe and America it never ceases to amaze me to what extent Iranian tell lies, say one thing but mean another, purposefully deceive you with a smile, and with little embarrassment fail to keep their word. A signed contract means ignoring terms, finding a loophole, and working hard to cheat the other guy. It seems this is our highly prized "zerangi", or cleverness, but more often than not it instead displays a lack of a moral compass.

Is this Islamic culture or Iranian culture? Is there some expert that can answer this question because what I have experienced since being back is close to a breakdown of civilized behavior? Friends that experienced Iran before the revolution say it was never like this before 1979.

Maybe Ahmadinejad's lying seems shocking from where you are sitting but over here it's perfectly normal and part of daily life.

After these years of being back in Iran the shock has worn off finally and "adaptation" has taken place, or have I become less "civilized"? Then again, is honesty, consideration, telling the truth, and keeping your word measures of being more civilized?

Or is civilization measured by the number of murders, rapes, war crimes, and homeless? Because if it was, the United States would certainly be at the bottom of the list and Iran close to the top.

Mohammad Alireza / September 24, 2010 2:03 AM

Well, geez. We could pick apart Hillary Clinton the same way. Same goes for Blair, Netanyahu and a host of other politicians.

Mahmoud? Sure he stretched things. But no more than his Western contemporaries.

You don't like 'em? Don't vote for 'em.

Muhammad, you must admit, though, that Mahmoud did expose a fair amount of hypocrisy and double-standard being applied today against Iran (and Palestine). If you weren't so politically partisan, maybe you could have mentioned that, as well.

Pirouz / September 24, 2010 2:57 AM

mohammad aireza- you are so correct. this is one of the best comments ive read in a long time.

all iranians who experienced iran before islamic takeover say the same thing. there was not so much lying as now. you cant trust anyone and everybody lies and steals. everybody.

the country is a failure at every leve. and we are head towards a breakdown of civilized behavior yes. or we have been in many, many centuries. the only positive part of our history in the last centuries has been the pahlavis which tells a great deal about the rest.

arman / September 24, 2010 3:00 AM

On Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s lies about stoning

farshad Hoseini / September 24, 2010 3:12 AM

It is really a shame that none of those interviewers asked him about the Bahais. They are being heavily prosecuted, disallowed from attending schools, many of their properties have been seized, and their homes have been demolished. How is it that these "journalists" allow these issues to go unnoticed? I have been truly been saddened by the questions asked, and the ignorance displayed by the media. Bahais in Iran are imprisoned daily and falsely accused of espionage. How is it that one can sleep at night while ignoring this?

Ryan / September 24, 2010 3:15 AM

Lying, Hypocrisy and Corruption have reached pandemic levels in Iran since the Islamists take over of 1979. This is why you can not believe anyone who is or has been part of this regime. That goes all the way to the beginning and starts with Khomeini and includes Mousavi, Rafsanjani, Khatami and AhmadiNejad, to name a few.

Maziar / September 24, 2010 3:58 AM

Yes, why no mention of the largest minority, the Baha'is of Iran and their life long persecution. Is it because they do not openly protest and take to the streets to be noticed?

prs / September 24, 2010 5:38 AM

AN's responses are the best ever and kudos to him. He gets better every year!!

rezvan / September 24, 2010 6:17 AM

We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy. - Baha'i Holy Writings

prs / September 24, 2010 6:27 AM

Judging by the writing style, it looks like most of the posts opposing this article were written by one person. - Another snitch of the Islamic Republic?! Try harder, buddy.

Austin Green / September 24, 2010 7:18 AM

he paid CNN to do an interview. didnt you see how he was ready to answer each question with a question? he was prepared for each question. F** ahmadi and F** a private channel that gets paid to do an interview.

yan / September 24, 2010 7:56 AM

The fact that Obama lies, Clinton lies, Blair lies, ... does not excuse Ahmadinejad!

Yes, they all lie to various degrees, but we can be critical of their lies - all of them!

And yes, horrible injustice goes on in many places, and we should condemn all such acts whenever and wherever they take place.

The horrific punishment of death being imposed on Mrs. Mohammadi should be condemned - and so should the terrible injustice being done to the U.S. woman on death row!

Jay / September 24, 2010 8:23 AM

i was confused on the part with NY protesters with pictures of mko/maryam rajavi [cnn] http://bit.ly/bAgT3G

tehranweekly / September 24, 2010 9:02 AM

Well put. Now we can compare how much Sahimi and ahmadinejad have in common. Both liers, both full of anger and frustration. While Ahmadi lied, as shown in bold, Sahimi matched them in his responses, paragraph by paragraph. They both deseve to join the dustbin of history. We know Sahimi's career is over, we have to wait two more years for Ahmadi to go as well. Ofcourse, when he leaves office, we'l know there was no coup, and Sahimi lied.

I was very disappointed in Ahmadinejad's failure to use this occasion to provide new ideas and provide a new solution. Not surprising, I suppose, since he failed to be a uniting force since last year's elections. His denial of human rights violation and imprisonments was just over the top, particularly that even the Iranian judiciary tried and convicted 9 security official for murder in the closed prison. 3 were convicted to death. You'l never hear that truth from Sahimi. Because it won't fit his state department conjured up stories of "military coup." Selective memory is required for that lie to stick.

Ahmadinejad's UN speech today was better toned. While he unecessarily went into conspiracy theories about 9/11, like Sahimi's conspiracy wild dreams, he did make a positive speech. He called 2011 the year for nuclear disarmament and nuclear energy enlightment. He also held up a copy of Quran and the Bible and explained "we" respect both and believe in the same God. He also indirectly blamed the 9/11 atmosphere (the US has created in the world)responsible for the Quran burnings and hate toward muslems 9 years after the fact.

His performance this week, should raise our concerns for possible confrontation. We have to wait for the fall out to see how it will be recieved worldwide. Should the Israelis and the unelected Palestinian representatives reach even the slightest understanding, it would enbolden the Neocons and their pretenders on the web. None of us know what will happen, and Ahmadinejad just raised the stakes.


you raise a great point. That is a shame. I would have liked to have seen his reaction to that. Although I think he is smart enough to avoid it. Maybe he would say there are no Bahais in Iran, like there are no gays in Iran.


you are right. But we have to focus on what the man said and hold him responsible for his own comments. We should have other article about those other liers you correctly point out to, but you won't get it from Sahimi. In case of Netenyahu an Blair, Ahmadi was right, they are criminals and should be tried. But he uses it to deflect attention from himself and avoids the question, we should not fall into that trap. Everyone is responsible for their own actions.

Mohammad Alireza

I found your comments insightful. But I see Tehran that way, that is not my impression once you step out of that city. Maybe I am wrong. Many who have not even been there say "Iran was better before the revolution." Ofcourse, the damn fact is that there was a revolution. Something must have been wrong.

Pouya / September 24, 2010 10:45 AM

Yet the Bahais are celebrated in Haifa, Israel where their garden/temple is not only a tourist attraction but a symbol of tolerance and symbiosis. Only in Israel are the Bahais accepted...go figure..

O / September 24, 2010 11:33 AM

This guy he is such a jerk don't worry...Also he is not iran's president ;) He is a special bait for people :D

free iran / September 24, 2010 12:48 PM


You are right. Every politician lies. But if they gave out degrees for lying, Ahmadinejad would get a PHD!!

"you don't like 'em? Don't vote for 'em"???? Nobody voted for him, he stole the elections.

And you seem like an intelligent person, stop being a mouthpiece for the thugs of the IR. And stop using Palestine in every subject. The Palestinian government and the people don't want any support, infact they don't want anything to do with the IRI. Can you blame them?

Mohammad Alireza,

The Iranian culture is rich, with a long history. Unfortunatley, It stopped the day Islam was forced on the people of Iran. And If you look at just about any Muslim country, it seems like they are still in the 6th century.

AG / September 24, 2010 1:14 PM

In Europe they did it another way this time, they didn`t show any interview with AN. No news at all. And remembering the this issue during the last times, where they gave his statements as the opinion of the majority of the population, I prefer this way.
@mohammad alireza- claiming the actual business style you are very right, and I hope that this is neither related to islamic culture nor to iranian culture, but rather the result of the political situation, which keeps the corruption growing.
But this problem with signed contracts you can find also in Europe, but in a little different way: just try to get money back from an insurance in a serious (expensive!) case and you will be aware. The best layers become engaged to find the loophole and they will! - So it´s just another way. ( but the right to discuss a contract is only on the side of the stronger on, not other way round!!)The question regarding civilization is quite difficult to answer, but I didn´t find in the persian and iranian history any thing what is compareable with the assassination of millions of red indians, jewish people, armenians, gipsys, africans ....!!! Not talking about thousands of dead civilians murdered in wars which have been imposed due to greed and eagerness of power. My hope for Iran: going back to follow the present constitution, which just has to be amended in a few points, that a constellation of power like the present one can not be possible again.

Paul / September 24, 2010 3:00 PM

This is one of the best ones:

"Fidel Castro called me and denied what was attributed to him about me".

If Castro issues a statement denying that he ever made such a call I bet AN would say "He can't remember because he's too old...we even have the documents to prove it (سندش هم موجود است)"!

Although his lies are ridiculous to the extreme, the spirit of his lies is very much part of the worldview presented by the regime. I suggest people follow one of the major newspapers of the regime for a few days or watch some of the news and analysis programs produced by IRIB to see what I mean. You will feel that you're in a parallel universe where Western civilisation is on the brink of economic collapse and social implosion while the rest of the world can't wait to be ruled by 80 year old mullahs just like us. In this parallel universe the Islamic Republic is loved by most of the world (never mind the occasional sanctions resolutions at the UN) and is going to take over global management within a couple of years (or should anyway) whereas the rest of the world lives in wretched misery and yearns for theocracy of the mullah variety. You will see that this phenomen of systematically presenting outrageous lies has become part of the fabric of the Islamic Republic. I suppose accepting the truth is just too painful for them. I can't blame them.

Cy / September 24, 2010 3:15 PM

DEar alireza and arman first of all plesae do'nt analyse yourself from rest of Iranian.
well I do not realy get what are you talking about? have you not seen the protests sinc last election? do u relay think iranian people did believe whatsoever their government and mahmood say to them and then they come to street to get shot? been raped and been tortured inside prisones? the type of culture you are pointing at perobably is your own experience or your dear and dearest ones. I would not say you are completely wrong as i do believe this is a type of islamic culture which made everyone to lies easily as 'maslahat' but that does not mean this a pure iranian culture and people do belive every bullshit they are told. as a matter of fact they do not and will not trust this governmet even if they come to say 'mast sefide'. the have some high rates of disbelief in this government otherwise they would not come to streets to risk their own life.

nasrin / September 24, 2010 5:29 PM

The record book of the 10th Iranian Government in IR:
1) Shameful severe crackdown on peaceful opponents, human rights activists, intellectuals, virtually turning the country into a graveyard of peaceful dissidents
2) Executing people in groups without clear charges, enforcing collective punishments and executions.
3) Inducing cosmic inflation and economic recession
4) A bankrupted foreign policy and a disgraceful account of several declarations in United nation against Iran
5) A cultural decay and a rise of prostitution due to economic hardship and abject poverty
6) Implementing medieval inhuman punishments such as stoning, cutting off hands, etc.
7) Spreading lies and hypocrisy in all levels and sectors of the government and society in an unprecedented scale in the contemporary Iranian history
8) Hatching plots against national security and unity, spreading the seeds of discord among ethnic groups in Iran with unforeseeable consequences in the future
9) Implementing racially charged policies and chauvinistic approach to national issues.
10) Inability to solve major issues such as addiction to narcotics, the outbreak of contagious dangerous diseases, etc.
11) Promoting cultural decay and official lies in Iran resulting in the increased number of Iranians contaminated with this culture of lies and hypocrisy as we all witnessed and have seen.
12) Neglecting totally the Constitution and people’s rights enshrined in it.
13) Thugocracy, the most primitive and savage kind of despotism
14) The abominable Kahrizac detention center where people in the most hideous way were tortured, killed and raped
15) overspending the national treasury and Iranian monetary and natural resources, equal to embezzlement, leading to bankruptcy
16) Religious, Ethnic and Gender discrimination in all walks of life
17) Brutal assault on the house of God( the Qaba mosque ) in Shiraz in daylight, is yet another mad act of this government
18) As if Brain Drain was not enough, add Brawn drain too
19 Sponsoring terrorism worldwide, arming terrorist groups and safe heaven for assassins is another despicable crime against not only Iranians but also the whole humanity.
20) Shameful lies on international stage , media outlet and UN general assembly, making delusional remarks by the so called head of the government and other officials.
What a country we live in, they cut off hands, pull off nails , dig out eyes , rape women and men and stone women and they drive over peaceful protesters, assassinate father of two kids in Ashura the most holy day
for Shiite, assault mosques , all in the name of Islam.

Babak / September 24, 2010 5:33 PM

>>Yet the Baha'is are celebrated in Haifa, Israel where their garden/temple is not only a tourist attraction but a symbol of tolerance and symbiosis. Only in Israel are the Baha'is accepted...go figure..

I am not sure what is meant by the above statement. The Baha'is are celebrated in Israel and only there they are accepted? In what way? They are legal entities in most of the countries of the world and are engaged in socio-economic activities for the benefit of the local populations. Isn't this being accepted in places other than Israel and far more? In Israel they maintain a cordial relationship with the Government and that's about all, no religious or socio-economic activities. By the way, the Baha'i Holy Places historically have been in Israel long before Israel came into being, a mere coincidence and not a planned presence because only Israel would accept the Baha'is in their midst

prs / September 24, 2010 6:08 PM

Professor Sahimi,

i think the greater question is: why is the American media creating a banal celebrity out of this man? Why are they giving him the spotlight? And is the state of American journalism so dire (which I think it is) that they can't produce one real 'journalist' to ask this man a real question?

Pedestrian / September 24, 2010 6:12 PM


The present constitution of the Islamic Republic can in no way form the basis of anything resembling a democracy. I don't know if you have read the document, but I have and it is my honest assessment that there is no way that it can be reformed even with a reformist Supreme Leader in charge! Not only is the letter of the constitution deeply undemocratic, the spirit of it is theocratic in every aspect. The constitution of the Islamic Republic is nothing but a document that takes away all of the natural rights of a people and gives them to the Shia Clergy, one specific subgroup of Iranian society. It is a document promising Iranians eternal slavery to mullahs and their dark thoughts and practices. I wish this wasn't the case, but I'm afraid that it is.

Cy / September 24, 2010 6:13 PM

The comments from Mohammad Alireza, Cy and others are very much in tune with what I've been hearing from Iranians "in real life". Crime (esp. theft) in Tehran seems to have skyrocketed, and there is little or no trust between people, to the point where the typical Iranian characteristics of friendliness and hospitality have entirely gone out of the window (not surprisingly, people seem to care about this much more than the nuclear issue). And when lies like Ahmadinejad's are perpetrated on an international scale, it's easy to see the reason for the (apparent) breakdown in civil society and the hostility of other countries. Those responsible should be made to answer for all this, and more power to those with the courage and determination to stand up to them -- looks like it's going to be a long struggle.

Ian / September 24, 2010 6:36 PM

Aside from some undemocratic parts of the current constitution, I find the rest acceptable but not satisfactory. Erase Supreme leadership or confine his power, refer to ballots and amend the constitution after that I think it will work. To dismiss completely the constitution will bring anarchy. If we want to abolish the constitution then we need a revolution which will be costly, painful and bloody.A stepwise approach to the constitutuion and amending it in several stages is the best way to deal with the undemocratic parts of the constitution.

Babak / September 24, 2010 7:40 PM

"Erase the Supreme leadership" is very close to getting rid of the whole thing. He's all over the place! I do agree that a stepwise approach is more desirable; I just don't think it's possible. Anyway, I don't think we'll see such an approach anytime soon and if we do I think the inherent contradictions will result in the whole thing unraveling or returning to the status quo. I have difficulty conceiving a stable pathway for a smooth transition.

Cy / September 24, 2010 8:37 PM

The man does make for good comedy. No doubt about it. He did forget about Zorkan theory of 9-11, that Zorkan king of the alien zippies launched and created the 9-11 attack that killed 4,000 plus civilians............It's a popular theory.........
Why do the american media interview him? That's a pretty easy question to answer. Entertainment. He is the "president" of Iran. Even if he was just the loser of the last presidential election in Iran, he'd be worth an interview. Watch C-SPAN if you want non-entertainment poitical coverage. Their rtings reflect this. Good thing they don't have to try to sell commericals for their network. No one would buy advertisements to pratically no one else.
Why don't they give him a real question? Because he'd just give them another lie. Requiring 30 min. of wasted time to explain why this was a lie.
Iran is a pretty small country. 70 million population. They do have oil. Big benefit for them. But, what else can Ahmadinejad do to seperate himself from all the other 70 million pop. nations' leaders? Well, quite honestly.....talk. And talk s***. It's rather immature, but it does draw attention. At least for a little while. The novelity will wear off.
Ahmadinejad is basically harmless to those outside of Iran. Wch makes it easy for me and others to see the humor in him. But, thank whatever god, I have no one I care of threatened y him and his regime. Inside of Iran he posseses a real threat to life and liberty. And I feel real empathy for these people.

muhammad billy bob / September 24, 2010 8:49 PM

Why not write an article about ALL THE LIES AGAINST Ahmedinejad? Lies about him saying wiping Israel off the map, lies about him saying there are no gays, lies about claiming he stole the election when there is no proof, lies about calling him a dictator and so on

M. Ali / September 26, 2010 10:39 AM


The first three of your points are not lies and happen to be true and the fourth one is a partial lie since, to your credit, Khamenei does must of the dictating.

1. He has repeatedly said "Israel should be wiped off the map" and "Israel will be wiped off the map" usually accompanied by vivid descriptions of the country as a "rotting corpse" or a "cancerous tumor" and so on. Not very diplomatic.

2. He explicitly says in the original video that "we have no such thing (homosexuals) in our country", exact persian:

اصلا در کشور ما چنين چيزی وجود ندارد

After he bacame a global laughing stock (for this specific reason that is) he changed his mind. But he definitely said it.

3. The arguments have been presented a million times and I don't have the time or desire to present the very solid case for massive electoral fraud.

4. I don't think even Khamenei or his supporters would dispute this. For detailed proof see The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

P.S. Interesting that you didn't mention the Holocaust or the 9/11 conspiracy theory as AN was dumb enough not to leave even the smallest measure of ambiguity in his statements on these issues.

Cy / September 26, 2010 7:43 PM

thanks again professor sahimi, you really nailed this one so well,you put all the lies into catagories,well done.i am still very puzzled that he is given such platform to express his lies,why even give him an interview to begin with.again when the questions around human rights were asked,his demeanor changed drastically and was clearly upset.we should push this issue further.

fay / September 27, 2010 5:59 AM

CY, Babak,

did not mean to eavesdrop, but interesting conversation regarding the constitution.

Just a side note, the French rewrote their constitution 17 times after their revolution. So it is possible to do exactly exactly that, to rewrite a constitution. Though I agree it prob cant be done without turmoil.

Ahvaz / September 28, 2010 3:30 AM

he lies, so what!, who is honest with us anyway??

cyrus / September 30, 2010 6:43 PM